Saturday, April 25, 2015

Infertility Journey: You Are Not Alone

A flood of emotions have run through me as this week, National Infertility Awareness Week, comes to a close.  It wasn't that long ago that my husband and I were on the Infertility Journey ourselves.  The journey itself is draining, emotionally, physically, and financially.    Imagine yearning for something your entire life, knowing in your heart that you will become pregnant one day, only to be told that your body isn't capable of creating life.  Sitting through multiple doctor's appointments each week, requesting off work, being poked and prodded regularly, and spending every dime you have to hear the words "you can't conceive naturally".  The journey itself is very lonely.  But I am declaring to those migrating through infertility, "You are not alone". 

God tells us in Isaiah 41:10, "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." 

Infertility is an isolating disease, impacting 1 in 8 couples.  You sit in the waiting room with several other couples, making eye contact, wondering what their diagnosis is, and yet while you're all experiencing the same struggle you feel completely alone.  However, we are not alone in Christ, there is no need to fear infertility.  Each time you walk in that waiting room, Jesus is walking next to you.  He's holding your hand while you get blood taken and have ultrasound after ultrasound.  He's embracing you when you discover you aren't pregnant again or miscarry, and through Him you find the strength to continue going to the doctors and seek treatment.  He is whispering to you, "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you, and through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you.  When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned or scorched, nor will the flame kindle upon you" (Isaiah 43:2).

Your hope to carry a child comes from God.  I remember finding indescribable comfort in Psalm 62:5, "Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him".

About half way through our journey, I remember doubting my dream to be pregnant and thinking "maybe this isn't God's calling on my life, maybe I'm not supposed to carry a child, maybe I'm not even supposed to be a mom."  Then one day, I prayed asking "God I have this yearning, this desire in my heart to have a child.  I want to carry a baby, but Lord I don't know if this is my own selfish desire or if it is Your calling on my life.  Heavenly Father, I am bringing my desire to you, and I am asking you to remove this desire if it is not Your will.  If I am not to conceive or carry a baby, I ask that you remove this desire from my heart and give me peace."  Can I tell you, after I prayed that prayer the desire in my heart only became stronger!  God was reaffirming, "Yes!  My calling on your life is that you will carry a child.  Trust in Me." 

God reminded me then to "Trust in the Lord, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.  Delight yourself also in the Lord, And He shall give you the desires of your heart" (Psalm 37:3-4).  

Trusting in God is what brought us through so many painful appointments and consultations.  Our story is so different, as is everyone's infertility journey.  For us, we decided to walk away from treatment, stop "trying" and just lean on God.  In just four months we were pregnant, but miscarried; the next month we were pregnant, but miscarried.  At that point the doctor wanted to have a consultation and I remember him saying "Well, you couldn't get pregnant for years and now you've gotten pregnant twice.  We need to figure this out."  I looked at him and boldly told him, "We don't need to figure it out, God is working."  You see, I don't believe that God gave me two babies and took them away, no God does not intentionally hurt us that way, but I do believe he had been healing me (I had Stage 4 Endometriosis).  

After each of those miscarriages I thanked God and I began repeating Psalm 52:9, "I will praise you forever for what you have done; in your name I will hope, for your name is good.  I will praise you in the presence of your saint." 

That is not to say that we didn't mourn those miscarriages, but instead of focusing on the loss we decided to focus on the gain (getting pregnant).  Only through the strength and peace of God were we able to be thankful. We are reassured in John 16:33, "I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace.  In the world you will have tribulation.  But take heart; I have overcome the world."

In January 2013, we discovered that our miscarriages had lead to a blocked fallopian tube; one more obstacle to overcome.  "And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast" (1 Peter 5:10).  

We didn't seek treatment to unblock my fallopian tube, we sought God.  We prayed, we believed, we quoted scripture, and we took action through tithing.  Spring of 2013 we found ourselves experiencing an incredible amount of peace; a God-given peace.  I wrote several verses on my bathroom mirror and around my office at work.  Matthew 21:22, "And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive" was a go-to verse for me.  We had been praying for four years to be blessed with a child, but had we been believing?  I mean truly, 100%, without a doubt, believing that we would become pregnant?  I don't think we were.  I think there was a little self-doubt for me, each month, when I knew in a few short days I either would or wouldn't be pregnant.  I had doubt, I didn't fully believe.  But when we made the decision to fully trust God, putting all of our faith in Him, that doubt was removed.  In April 2014 we welcomed a healthy, full-term baby boy and in November we will be welcoming another precious child.  Only through Christ Jesus is this even possible.

So I'm asking you: remove the doubt, forget what the doctors have said, rebel against the earthly answers and shout out to God.  He is sitting patiently, waiting for you to call on His name and believe that He will fulfill the desires of your heart. 

I am praying for each and every one of you who is on the infertility journey.  You are not alone.  

Here are some more verses we leaned on during our journey:
Psalm 33:20 "We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield."

Psalm 39:7 "But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you."

2 Corinthians 12:9 "But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me."

Galatians 6:9 "And let us not lose heart and grow weary and faint in acting nobly and doing right, for in due time and at the appointed season we shall reap, if we do not loosen and relax our courage and faint.

In Christ,


Monday, February 9, 2015

3 Things People Should Stop Saying to Small-Framed Women After Childbirth

For the most part, I have pretty thick skin and don't get offended very easily.  But over the last 10 months, I had so many people comment on my body that it made me think about what is being said to small-framed women.  Apparently when you're thin, petite, and short, many folks assume that you are open to discussing your weight.  I understand that most people are trying to offer a compliment but maybe it's time we start choosing our words more carefully.  If these statements bother me, I wonder how much it bothers someone who isn't thick-skinned.

1.  "You're SO tiny!"
First of all, when did "SO tiny" become a compliment?  Maybe you're just confused because I was SO big when I was 9 months pregnant, but this is not complimentary.  Yes, I am 5'0" so that already makes me small, but "tiny"?  The very definition of tiny is "very small or diminutive (extremely or unusually small)".  Tiny is not a positive remark.  While your intentions are good, try finding another word or phrase...a generic "wow, you look great" would suffice.

2.  "Have you already lost all of your baby weight?"
This is probably the phrase I've heard the most.  Maybe it's because of my #losebabyweight on my Facebook posts, but before I got pregnant and it was #goalweight no one was asking me how much weight I had lost....
A friend of mine (who is of a larger frame) and also recently had a baby, witnessed someone asking me this one day...and she was shocked!  Once the person left, my friend and I began discussing the situation and I realized, she had never been asked this question...but why not?  Because it would be rude to ask a heavier-set woman if she had lost her baby weight?  Why is it rude to ask her, but not rude to ask me?
Which leads me to the next comment....

3.  "It must've been easy for you to lose your baby weight!"
Oh I see, because I got back down to my pre-baby size quickly you assume it was easy.  This statement is typically followed by "well, you ate really healthy during your pregnancy, so I'm sure you didn't have much to lose."  First of all, yes I did eat healthy during my pregnancy which does help when it comes to losing baby weight; however, I still gained 45 pounds and left the hospital only 5 pounds lighter.  I had 40 pounds to lose so in response to the statement, "No, it wasn't easy to lose my baby weight but I was dedicated." I counted calories, I worked out, I cut out the soft drinks, sweet snacks, and fast food.  It was hard work.  Just because it came off quickly, doesn't mean it came off easily!

I'm not shy and typically don't even shy away from these statements, but I do think about the women who internalize these comments (or the women who overhear the comments and haven't "lost all your baby weight" and aren't "so tiny").  There is so much pressure on women to "lose the baby weight" quickly after childbirth because our culture is fixated on being thin.  I just ask, that you think about what you're saying and how you're saying it before approaching a new mom.  Everyone's body is different and our bodies go through so much during and after pregnancy.  Some moms are working really hard to lose that baby weight but it just isn't coming off.  Have a little grace :)

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Biggest Loser 2015

Our school's Biggest Loser competition has commenced!  While I'm excited to get motivated to lose the rest of this baby weight, I know that it will be a true challenge.  You see in the past, I wasn't a mom (obviously) so I had lots of free-time (LOTS of FREE time).  I'm talking for-real free time to work out and stay fit; I combined my exercise regime with working out at Planet Fitness and taking classes at Sassy Girl Fitness.  Each day I dedicated 3 HOURS to working out - this was FULL, HARDCORE lifting, cardio, and core training.  I know that I will not be able to dedicate this amount of time now to exercising that I'm a mom.  However, I refuse to let being a mom become an excuse to not work out and live a healthy lifestyle.

The Fantastic Five are five tips that I give to my Biggest Loser Participants each week when we head off our competitions.  I thought I would share them in case you too are in need of some beginning of the year motivation :)

1.  Set Small Attainable Goals
Starting off a weight loss competition with the idea that you're going to cut out sugar, soda, caffeine, and processed foods is a map to Quitsville.  If you haven't cut these foods out before, trying to cut them all out at once will drive you insane.  Start with a small goal, like cutting out soda for a week, once you attain that goal then you can ADD to it.  

2.  Motivate Yourself
Sometimes we just need a visual of what our end goal is.  Going on a trip?  Take a picture of your destination and put it on your bathroom mirror and refrigerator door!  Can't squeeze into that favorite pair of jeans anymore?  Hang them on your bathroom door!  Seeing your goal every day will help keep you motivated.  

3.  Adopt the motto "after 8 is too late" for snacks after dinner. 
Snacking late has lots of negative effects.  First of all, when snacking late we tend to choose less healthy food option (chips, popcorn, candy, etc).  Secondly, at night our body is in rest mode, so our metabolism is resting and we are not as active as we were earlier in the day. This causes our snack to settle and we are not burning the calories that we are taking in.
Check out this article on tips for breaking the late night snacking habit!


4.  Meal Planning - Weekly
 Oh how I LOVE meal planning - Sunday night my husband and I talk about what dinners we will be making over the next week.  We are foodies so this is fun for us.  Not everything on the menu has to be perfectly healthy, but having our meals planned keeps us from making rash, unhealthy decisions when we get home from work.  It also helps us avoid the annoying "what do you want for dinner" conversation. 

5.  Stay on Track
Get a fitness/calorie counter app (like MyFitnessPal)and use it every single day.  If you're keeping up with every morsel you eat, you will be more aware of the foods you're eating and you begin to eat/snack less.  I mean really, who wants to spend 3 minutes logging in one hershey's kiss?  I'd rather just pass!
Other fitness/calorie trackers that are pretty popular:

Calorie Count App
Health App (available on Apple iPhone 5s and 6)

Disclaimer: I am not a fitness trainer or doctor.  I am not affiliated with Biggest Loser in any way.  This is a friendly competition that my co-workers and I use to help us get motivated and lose weight.  The advice and information contained on this website may not be appropriate for all individuals. I accept no responsibility for and exclude all liability in connection with browsing this Web site, use of information or downloading any materials from it, including but not limited to any liability for errors, inaccuracies, omissions, or misleading or defamatory statements.